Morphological variation and a remarkable new sexual dimorphism in the Pseudocyclops xiphophorus population of Lake Faro in northeastern Sicily


  • Cinzia Brugnano Department of Animal Biology and Marine Ecology, Messina University
  • Geoffrey A. Boxshall Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum. London
  • Giuseppe Costanzo Department of Animal Biology and Marine Ecology, Messina University
  • Giacomo Zagami Department of Animal Biology and Marine Ecology, Messina University



Pseudocyclops xiphophorus population, Lake Faro, morphotypes, sexual dimorphism, morphological observation and interbreeding experiments


The population of P. xiphophorus in Lake Faro exhibits variation in the form of caudal seta V. In some specimens of both sexes, this seta is spatulate but in others it is slender and unmodified. Occasional specimens are asymmetrical. In addition to this variation in caudal seta form, the Lake Faro population displays variation in male body length and in the extent of the sexually dimorphic specialisation of the right swimming leg 2. The scale of these differences between the morphotypes might suggest their taxonomic treatment as distinct species. The modification of the distal two segments of the exopod of right leg 2 in the male is a unique sexual dimorphism. We infer, from the presence of this hook on the right exopod in adult males only, that it is involved in mating behaviour. Laboratory-based breeding experiments between females and males showing different combinations of these characters were also performed. Experiments comparing egg production rates in females that have mated with modified or unmodified males revealed no significant differences. It appears therefore that gene flow is not interrupted between the morphotypes and that reproductive segregation does not occur. Observations of male leg 5 morphology and musculature revealed no significant differences between the two P. xiphophorus morphotypes.


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How to Cite

Brugnano C, Boxshall GA, Costanzo G, Zagami G. Morphological variation and a remarkable new sexual dimorphism in the Pseudocyclops xiphophorus population of Lake Faro in northeastern Sicily. scimar [Internet]. 2009Jun.30 [cited 2021Sep.17];73(2):347-55. Available from: